Monday, March 21, 2016

The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee

Lilliet Berne is a sensation of the Paris Opera, a legendary soprano with every accolade except an original role, every singer’s chance at immortality. When one is finally offered to her, she realizes with alarm that the libretto is based on a hidden piece of her past. Only four could have betrayed her: one is dead, one loves her, one wants to own her. And one, she hopes, never thinks of her at all. 
As she mines her memories for clues, she recalls her life as an orphan who left the American frontier for Europe and was swept up into the glitzy, gritty world of Second Empire Paris. In order to survive, she transformed herself from hippodrome rider to courtesan, from empress’s maid to debut singer, all the while weaving a complicated web of romance, obligation, and political intrigue.  
Featuring a cast of characters drawn from history, The Queen of the Night follows Lilliet as she moves ever closer to the truth behind the mysterious opera and the role that could secure her reputation -- or destroy her with the secrets it reveals.


Lilliet Berne is a popular opera singer with a secret past - one she does not wish anyone to know about. But that is exatcly what will happen if an opera is written about her life by someone who has discovered her secret. From circus performer, to prostitute, to singer, Lilliet has a lot to lose. 

What follows is a clever plot that takes many turns. It is very much a statement about women in a stringent historical period where it was difficult to maintain one's independence. 

If you are an opera lover, then you will find the story highly entertaining for its many links and subplots related to famous operas, and Lilliet's story runs parallel to some of these themes. Many famous historical characters have cameo appearances in the story - Brahms, Verdi, and Empress Eugenie to name a few. 

It is obvious the author did intensive research into the period which shows in the many vivid descriptions of clothing and operas. And of course there is a lovely growing romance between Lilliet and a composer, one in which truly touched me. A very good, long book. 

Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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